Mindfulness in the Workplace

The brain is an interesting thing. I attended an Australian Institute of Management (AIM) webinar on how the brain works – neuroscience. Of particular interest to me was how it reacts to certain things perceived as threats. Obviously each of us has different triggers but they can be bundled into threats to: 

• Status
• Certainty
• Autonomy
• Relatedness
• Fairness


Once the brain perceives a threat, the hormones that it releases, causes the following responses:
• The capacity to think is reduced
• The capacity to have insight is reduced
• You generalise
• You err on the side of pessimism. 
This happens because the brain has gone searching in its “history” for a response to the threat. For example, if the manager comes out and says that the company is going to restructure (a perceived threat to certainty for you) you probably won’t hear anything else. Your “thinking” will shut down as you remember every time you have heard this word and the upheaval that it has caused in your life. This collage of negative images is then put together and projected forward into visions of telling your family, looking for work, stressing about money, having to sell the house etc.
Meanwhile the manager just appointed you as the new frontline manager and doesn’t understand why you are hyperventilating!
To improve our reactions the presenters said that it starts with being aware – mindfulness

Acknowledge when you are having a threat response, label the emotion behind it (fear, anger, sadness etc.) then re-frame the threat as an opportunity – a new challenge. This will then allow the “thinking” part of your brain to look for a new solution. When this part of the brain kicks in, the other hormones kick in that enable:


• A focus on solutions

• A global view
• connections to be made
• You become engaged and optimistic
To be able to apply this to relationships – work and personal – would mean a whole new level of communication and hopefully a lot less misunderstandings.

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